In the first half of 2012, magazines compete for ‘The Weakest Title’

If it was a reality TV show, we might call it ‘The Weakest Title’ or ‘The Amazing Race to the Bottom.’

But unfortunately, it’s not a show; it’s an entire industry.

The most recent report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations paints a bleak picture of the magazine industry as a whole, as newsstand sales continued their steady descent during the first half of 2012.

Overall newsstand sales dropped nearly 10% with 21 of the top 25 magazines seeing losses.  The weakest contenders belong to the celebrity category.  The once-reliable PEOPLE* dropped by more than 18%.  US WEEKLY*, IN TOUCH WEEKLY*, and STAR* also saw double-digit declines.  Weekly news magazines, like NEWSWEEK* and TIME*, slumped further as well, still losing ground in the 24/7 news cycle.

Women’s and fashion titles took a hit as well.  VANITY FAIR* was down by nearly 19%, VOGUE* by more than 16% and COSMOPOLITAN* by over 15%.  The biggest loser in this category was WEIGHT WATCHERS*, which shed more than 27% of its single-copy sales.

There were some bright spots in food and shelter titles.  Sales of industry darling FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE* took off, rising almost 18%.  WOMAN’S DAY* and FAMILY CIRCLE* saw respective gains of 8% and 6%.  ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST* was up by more than 8%, proving we all need to dream a little.

For the first time, the ABC reported separate numbers for digital editions of magazines, which account for less than 2% of all copies sold.  The big winner, by a mile, was GAME INFORMER* with a digital circulation of 1.2 million.  Following at a distant second is MAXIM* with fewer than 300,000 digital copies.

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